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Teaching to Fish

Teaching to Fish

Elise volunteered with her family in Nicaragua in June 2014 when she had just turned 12 years old. This post was originally written as an assignment that was given to Elise at school. She was asked to write about something that changed her or that she had learned from in life.  Her father was proud that she chose to share about her experience serving with Outreach360 with her family and shared her assignment with Outreach360.  This is her story: 

I wiped the sweat from my face and squinted as I stared into the blazing sun. I couldn’t believe that I was finally in Nicaragua. The humidity was making my hair super frizzy and I was exhausted from the eight hour trip here. But little did I know that the next week that I would spend there would teach me such a valuable life lesson.

My dad had always wanted to volunteer in a third world country, and now that my seventeen-year-old brother, six-year-old sister and I were going on summer break, we finally had the chance to do so. My dad researched many different places where my family could volunteer and he found a really nice program called Outreach360. What they do is they teach kids in the Dominican Republic and in Nicaragua English so that they can have a good education and get a good job when they are older. Since you need to donate a lot of money to go there, my dad, sister, and I made a fun video to ask for donations and put it on the Outreach360 website. People watched it and we got a few donations and good comments. We booked our flights and got everything we needed for the week. I was a little worried about sleep, plumbing, and the food. I had never been to a third world country before.

Before I knew it, we were in the crowded car on our way to the airport in San Francisco. We checked in our bags, went through security, and sat in the chairs outside our gate. “Where are we flying to first?” I asked my Dad. “El Salvador.” He responded. “Oh ya,” I said. “How long is the flight?” “Five hours.” He answered. The seat seemed hard and uncomfortable beneath me, but I tried to sleep for some of the longest five hours of my life. When we finally landed, we stretched our legs a bit before getting onto another airplane to Managua, Nicaragua. After we got off the plane, a man from Outreach360 drove us in a van to the volunteer house in Jinotega, two-and-a-half hours away. We got to stay in a very nice house compared to the other homes there, which were basically a dirt floor and metal walls and a roof. We had a room all to ourselves with six bunk-beds and a bathroom. The beds each had nets on them to keep out the mosquitoes. We were lucky to have indoor plumbing and running water. I went to bed and couldn’t help but feel excited and nervous about the next week with my family.

During the week, we went to the school each day after breakfast and met with the kids. We would sing a song, do the weather, write the date, and pick a helper. Then we would teach our lesson for the day to them. All the kids were so sweet and some were even my age. Before class, I got to read with some kids and some read in Spanish to me. I thought it was really fun helping to teach the kids English and be a friend to them.

In Jinotega, there was a saying that we heard a lot, which was: “Teaching the man how to fish is better than giving the man a fish.” This is exactly what we were doing. We were teaching the kids there English so that they can get a good job and earn money for themselves, or have a “Life of Choice” as Outreach360 would say, instead of just giving them the money. This had opened my eyes to how incredibly lucky and spoiled we are in the United States to have such good schools. Now, don’t get me wrong, I still don’t like school (who does?!!) but now I know the importance of getting an education and learning everything that we do. I don’t take my education for granted and I hope others do the same.